In four years Rhine Ellery will be dead. She is sixteen years old.
Thanks to failed genetic modifications the human race is dying off. Men have until 25; women succumb to the virus at 20. There is no cure. There is little hope.
Rhine was content to spend her remaining time at their house with her twin brother. It isn’t much of a life, but it is Rhine’s. Until it is taken from her.
Kidnapped and sold as a bride, Rhine wants for nothing in a new world of luxury and abundance. The only problem is that no level of finery can hide the truth: Rhine’s new home is a prison for her and her sister wives.
With time ticking away, Rhine is desperate to escape even as she wonders if it might make more sense to spend her final years in comfort instead of just scraping by in Wither (2011) by Lauren DeStefano.
Wither is the first book in DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy. It was also her first novel.
DeStefano’s writing is on point as Rhine describes a broken and ruined world. With so much to fear, so much bleakness, Wither still expertly highlights the small moments of hope and beauty that Rhine encounters in her new life.
The world building here is handled well with just enough explanation of new technology and back story to make the story plausible without bogging the story down in excess information.
Unfortunately a story that starts strong with tension and suspense begins to drag inexorably in the middle of the story as the focus shifts from the outside world Rhine’s suffocating new home with her abductor-husband.
While everything is here to make the book sensational, Wither started to feel anti-climactic as Rhine struggles again and again against her new life only to be thwarted in all of her escape attempts. Although some of the story is left up in the air, this book functions fairly well on its own for readers who may not follow the rest of the series.
No matter if Wither wins you over, this book proves that DeStefano is an author to watch and with a second series starting with Perfect Ruin, now might be the perfect time to give her books a try!
Possible Pairings: Crewel by Gennifer Albin, The Selection by Kiera Cass, The Jewel by Amy Ewing, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, Everless by Sara Holland, Legend by Marie Lu, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien, Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund, Divergent by Veronica Roth